Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, Amulet, 2010
Study hall and lunch periods are where the social lines are drawn and alliances are made in that odd world that is junior high school. Author, Tom Angleberger gets it just right with whimsy and humor. He has an ear for middle schoolers and a ton of empathy for them too.
A sixth grader named Tommy has asked his classmates to comment and describe their experiences with another 6th grader named Dwight and their opinion of the counsel dispensed by his odd little origami Yoda finger puppet. In different first person narratives, they share their stories.
The question is, does the puppet possess the insight and power of the Force (à la Star Wars) to advise junior high school students or is Dwight just weird? There is no doubt that Dwight is one of the oddest and most eccentric characters they interact with. His behavior puts him outside the pale, even for a sixth grader. Amazingly though, his Yoda finger puppet seems able to impart wisdom and advice that pays off for the kids who follow it. Dwight voices the puppet but swears he has no control over Yoda's pronouncements.
The "empathy" credit line from elementary school, for kids who are different, taps out quickly as the insecurities of adolescence kick in. Teens who are out of step with the herd can pay a heavy price, socially. Dwight has found a way to cope or has he? Is Yoda real?
Angleberger leaves many questions unresolved (clever lad) but provides a completely satisfying ending that left me smiling.
The book was designed by Melissa Arnst. The elegant origami Yoda on the cover will compel young (and old) readers to reach for the book. The stories are presented as typed case files on well-worn and somewhat crumpled pages. "Hand written" notations and doodles illustrate the margins and add to the story line and humor. The book ranks highly on the "BookMoot page turnability scale" which factors in line spacing, margin size, background page color/texture and story pacing on the page. I should have sensed the presence of Jedi art director master Chad W. Beckerman earlier here.
Charmed by this story I was. Yes, hmmm.
Directions for folding Origami Yoda are included as well as credits to other paper folding origami Yoda masters.